This archived article was written by: Chantale Frere
February is the celebration of Black History Month. It began as Negro History and Literature Week in 1920. In 1976, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History changed Negro History Week into a month-long celebration.
This year to commemorate Black History Month, members of the USU-CEU Eagle newspaper staff talked to several African-American students and found out who were their heroes and why they were their heroes.
Benoni Sowah, native of Ghana, said “Americans cannot write their history without talking about the African American.”
Some of his heroes are Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., “They are great because they stood up for the rights of many. All it takes is one person to stand up for the rights and freedoms of others.”
Sowah agreed that these people were great, but stated, “ if there was no freedom, no rights, they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish some of those things, if any of them.”
Lady Eagle basketball player Jasmine Scott said the most influential African American to her was Madame C. J. Walker, “ she revolutionized the hair industry, showing African-American women how beautiful they could be and gave them more confidence.”
Scott’s twin sister Amber said Rosa Parks made the biggest contribution to African American history, “ it was rare to see a women stand up for the rights of others, she did what not many people had the guts to do.”
Both agreed that the 1980s was the most crucial for the African American culture, “ the crack epidemic was starting out, young black males were idolizing pimps, I would love you to go back in time and let people know there are other ways to make money other then selling drugs.” said Jasmine Scott
“Not all Black people are ghetto and ignorant, some of us are educated, I am sick of people thinking that to be black means to be uneducated.” said Amber.
The top college for black students is Spelman College, in Atlanta, Ga. Total student population in 2008 was 2,191, 99.4% of there students are black.
Second is Howard University, in Washington, D.C. Total student population in 2008 was 6,807, 65.9% of there students are black.
Third is Morehouse College, in Atlanta Ga. Total student population in 2003 was 2,729, 95.2% of there students were black.
Some African American firsts include: The first U.S. President Barack Obama 2008; first U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall 1967-1991; first Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph J. Bunche 1950; first Congressional Medal of Honor winner Sgt. William H. Cerney during the Civil War; heart surgery pioneer Daniel Hale Williams 1893; first Ph.D. Edward A. Bouchet 1876; Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks 1950; female Grammy Award winner Ella Fitzgerald 1958; first Oscar, Best Actor/Actress Sidney Poitier 1963, Halle Berry 2001; star of a network television show Bill Cosby 1965; golf champion Tiger Woods 1997; first millionaire Madame C. J. Walker.
As long as history is being, made African Americans will be part of that history and will continually be striving to break down the barrier that still continues to hold us back.